Sometimes boring is better, like Canada's boringly complete and universal health care, boringly low crime rates, and boringly high educational levels. And then there's the boringly predictable excellence and value of the speaker systems that march south from Canada to the showrooms and home theaters of the lower 48.
First, the obvious: The Astell&Kern AK100 is beautiful, both visually and in tactile terms, much the same way as the first iPod you ever saw was. Who cares what it is or what it does? You just want to hold it. And own it.
Where do you start when converting a music collection to data files for home (and portable) playback? In the January 2011 issue, we defined key terms and explored the pros and cons of both lossy (data-compressed) and lossless (uncompressed) music-file formats. Now we'll put that knowledge to use. With space at a premium in these columns, instead of debating all the options I'll just tell you what I do and why, and hope that you can work out your best strategy from there.
Don't buy this receiver if you have a bad back, a rickety rack, or a bulging credit limit. Because Denon's latest flagship, the AVR-5805, is as tall as many receivers are deep, as deep as many are wide, as heavy as a pair of many other flagship models - and as expensive as a two-year-old Kia.
As seems usual for Onkyo, the TX-SR605 showed just how technically accomplished mass-produced electronics can be today, with perfectly flat frequency response and perfect D/A linearity to -90 dB (and beyond). Both are as good results as I've measured, and while my memory isn't infallible, I believe this to be the first time these two particular aces have been drawn by the same unit.
Quick, name a Canadian A/V receiver maker! Yeah, I couldn’t either — until now. Anthem, the north-of-the-border firm best known for its “Statement” Series reference-grade A/V preamp (and power amps), has finally merged the two forms into a single new element: the MRX family of A/V receivers.
It’s a fact of modern life. The higher you climb in the high end of anything, the less, at least in one sense, you will get. You will find, I believe, few gargoyles on buildings designed by I.M. Pei, and even fewer rear-seat DVD screens in Paganis.